Tsunamis are some of the most destructive forces on the planet. However like most truly powerful natural forces they need the proper location and the right condition to happen. Tsunamis are unique in that they are basically the side effects of seismic activity. This is why it important to know where do Tsunamis happen.
As mentioned a Tsunamis is a very fast and very large series of waves created when a large volume of water is shifted. The only way this can normally happen is a when a major earthquake, underwater landslide, or an equally high energy event occurs. This limits where a tsunami can happen. For example tsunamis caused by earthquakes can’t happen unless the earthquake is 6.5 or stronger on the Richter scale.
A Tsunamis caused by earthquakes originate at the plate boundary or fault line where the earthquake happened. However, earthquakes that cause major tsunamis are rare. As a matter of fact on average there are around just 5 to 6 tsunamis every century. This just makes where they happen to be more specific than other natural phenomena.
Where Tsunamis are occurred not even tectonic plate boundaries are equal in producing occurrences. Four out of every 5 tsunamis that happen occur in the region called the Ring of Fire. This region that rings the Pacific Ocean basis has some of the most active plate boundaries in the world. If a major earthquake happens here is it will definitely be strong enough to cause a tsunamis.
So what makes the Ring of Fire so active. There are several theories. Some scientist believe that this region was werer material that formed the moon came from. There is also the theory of a massive impact from space. We don’t know for sure but the result was a region where the tectonic plates are very active. This tectonic activity produced some of the world ‘s most active fault lines and volcanoes.
The origin of a tsunami is only half of the equation for where it occurs. The areas where the waves touch also matter. It the land a tsunami approaches is surrounded by shallow waters then the waves can build to their trademark heights. If a beach is bordered by deep waters tsunami waves cant build on themselves and will be just slight larger than wind waves. There is also the fact that tsunamis wave can travel hundreds of miles before it reaches a shoreline crossing entire oceans.
We have written many articles about tsunamis for Universe Today. Here’s an article about the effects of tsunamis, and here are some pictures of tsunami.
We’ve also recorded an episode of Astronomy Cast all about planet Earth. Listen here, Episode 51: Earth.